Thursday, February 23, 2017

"Real men provide/ Real women appreciate it," Triad Community Lets Seven Words Dictate Their Emotions/Actions, And KLEUR tries to Capitalize on the Situation

In the fourth week of February, crisis struck the state of North Carolina. Dozens of people are outraged enough to the point in which a statewide protest will be held at a small location on the business 40 interstate between Winston-Salem and Greensboro. The cause for the protest is this diabolical plot:

From the Triad City Beat
That's right; it's a billboard with a slightly provocative, seven-word message. According to Joel Sronce of the Triad City Beat, the sign that has caused such an outrage is owned by the Whiteheart Outdoor Advertising company. The Triad's community has reacted so far by giving their unofficial Facebook page a rating of one star.

although, there has only been one rating given, so far
Joel Sronce contacted President Bill Whiteheart of the Whiteheart Outdoor Advertising company for comment, to which he responded:
"We understand very well, I’m sure as you do, the Constitution of the United States, and it is a ‘freedom of speech’ type message where the parties that have paid for that advertising are conveying a heartfelt message to the public."
Of course one would be incredibly naive in believing Mr. Whiteheart's statement, since as Joel Sronce points out Mr. Whiteheart is a dirty republican.

does this ring a bell?

The protest is being hosted by KLEUR, a company that describes itself as a "Lifestyle Supply and Marketplace," and it functions similarly to any other middle class clothing store if the store had a coffee shop, a lounge, a donation page, and a social justice warrior attitude. Since this new era of protesting everything can cause misunderstandings as to why a certain company would endorse a political protest, I visited KLEUR's page on Facebook to try and find out what the protest is about. The page states a manifesto of action 
against the harmful sign:

"This billboard is new and currently standing on West Bound Business I-40, headed into Winston -Salem from Kernersville

On Sunday we have a public demonstration expressing our feelings about why this is offensive. If you are a woman or man who feels this is a harmful message, please consider joining us. Stay tuned for location and plan.
The power here is in numbers, so PLEASE make this a priority, and PLEASE spread word and request your friends join and show up. Don't abandon this! Show up right at 11 in case we are made to disperse. (We are looking into securing a an escort but that seems be it. ) 
Call the local papers and news network and demand they come and cover this. The more calls they get, the better." 
According to these statements, KLEUR wants a lot of people to attend, but more importantly they want a lot of press coverage for their event. Although I am now aware that the company is looking for that sweet, sweet free press, I'm still a little confused as to what the protest is about. I think some people often get confused when I ask these kinds of questions, but I am genuinely not sure what the sign is saying that should cause such an outrage, and in these kinds of situations I get frustrated with the lack of reasoning given by the protest coordinators. I understand that some might feel this is offensive, but since I don't exactly understand why I'm looking for the reasoning behind KLEUR's response. So far, I can only tell that the company is only looking for free advertising.

Luckily for me and for the others who may be confused, KLEUR posted an update on their page:
We are NOT protesting that the sign is capable of existing, or the people who put it up, or the ad agency, or the right to put it up. We are protesting patriarchy and sexism, and that this antiquated way of thinking about women exists at all. We are protesting the implied demand that women be silent and appreciate, regardless of whatever circumstances, their role as non-providers."
From here I can gather a few more pieces to the puzzle, but I'm still having trouble putting everything together. If we look at the definition of the word "protest," the word serves as a noun to signify a stance of opposition, and as a verb it either means to project that stance of opposition or to dispute the legality of a certain action. In this case, KLEUR has stated that it is not protesting the legality of the statement, but they are wishing to express their dissent of their interpretation of the seven deadly words on the sign. Essentially, what KLEUR is doing is gathering a large amount of people to sit near the sign for several hours and state that they don't like this thing.

In regards why KLEUR doesn't like the sign's message, I am still left a little puzzled. KLEUR is protesting patriarchy and sexism, and the implied demand that women be silent and appreciative as a non-provider.

So let's look at the sign's message, "Real men provide/ Real women appreciate it." Even though the statement is only seven words long, I think I'll need to break it down to fully analyze a fair interpretation.

"Real men provide." To provide is to make arrangements for supplying a means of support, be it money, love, affection, or even a literal, physical support of a person's body. The sign states that a real man would supply or prepare previous arrangements for the supply of some time of support. The opposite of this would be for the man to not supply anything at all. I think that it is fair to suppose that the sign is speaking in terms of a relationship or a marriage, and if that is the case, I don't know of a real man that wouldn't be supplying whatever support he could in a relationship. If I was a woman that was married to a man that wasn't supplying support of any kind, I would drop him so fast that he'd break the sound barrier.

"Real women appreciate it." If I  analyze this sentence in the context of the first statement, keeping in mind that the sign is referencing a relationship or marriage between a man or a woman, then the word "appreciate" means to recognize the full worth of something or to be thankful and express gratitude towards something. If a man is providing for his wife or partner, should the woman not have to be appreciative for it? If I were married to an unappreciative woman, I'd leave her faster than Britain left the EU.

KLEUR states that these phrases are sexist, so to explore this idea, I will manipulate the phrase and explore its opposites.

"Real men don't provide, Real women appreciate it." In this case, the sign would be stating that women appreciate it when their male partners don't provide for them or their family. I think it would be common sense to state that no woman would want to be in a relationship with a nonsupporting or uninvolved man, and furthermore no self-respecting person would appreciate being in a relationship with such a partner.

"Real men provide, Real women don't appreciate it." This statement would imply that if a woman wanted to consider herself "real," then she shouldn't appreciate it when her male partner provides for her or for her family. A sign with this message would be promoting an attitude of disdain towards husbands and their efforts to support a family in whatever way they can, and if that were the case I would argue the sign would be very sexist. Thankfully, this is not the sign, and women don't have to be unappreciative in order to be "real."

"Real men don't provide, real women don't appreciate it." To take the sign's message and change it to the exact opposite only reinforces the original message of the sign. I don't think either partner of a relationship would appreciate their better half being nonsupportive or unhelpful. A relationship is not a one sided deal; it's a team effort that requires two teammates. If one teammate isn't putting in his or her fair share, then that team is never going to make it to the playoffs.

Another way to analyze the statement for sexism would be to lengthen it's wording and over-complicate it. From this, I would say an accurate lengthening would be this; "Men of worth provide for their partners with their best efforts in either a relationship or marriage, as opposed to being nonsupportive or wholly uninvolved in the two's combined efforts. Women of worth appreciate their partners' provisions, as opposed to being unappreciative or ungrateful for their partners' support."

I could also reverse the roles of the genders in the statement and see how the message portrays itself in a different context; "Women of worth provide for their partners with their best efforts in either a relationship or marriage, as opposed to being nonsupportive or wholly uninvolved in the two's combined efforts. Men of worth appreciate their partners' provisions, as opposed to being unappreciative or ungrateful for their partners' support." As I stated earlier, a relationship is a team effort. Both parties are expected to provide something, and the situation is never as black and white as some might want to believe. If the man has job and the woman is a stay-at-home mother, then the man provides the money and the woman provides the childcare and other housework. If both the man and the woman have jobs, then they both provide money, childcare, and housework. If the woman has a job and the man is a stay-at-home father, then the woman provides the money and the man provides childcare and other housework. Of course, these aren't rules, however these are statements that anyone who has reasonable common sense and views a relationship or a marriage as a team effort would say. For example, just because one partner has a job while the other partner is unemployed doesn't mean that the job-bearing partner never has to watch the kids or clean the house or what have you, but if he or she is gone most of the week while the other is at home all day, maybe the stay-at-home parent should focus more on the housework. These situations are vastly unique across every individual relationship, and a healthy marriage comes with the discussion of how both partners can help contribute as opposed to deciding who is the provider and who is the non-provider.

The word "sexism" defines itself as prejudice or stereotyping against one gender, but it's hard to tell if any analysis I've come up with so far contains any form of prejudice towards either gender. The billboard isn't saying anything specific about either gender unless an onlooker perceives it in that way. I think the billboard can be interpreted in a hundred thousand different contexts if I really sat down and thought about it. Perhaps the billboard is stating that most men don't provide, or that most women don't appreciate their partners' provisions, or that men should always provide and women should always appreciate. In reality, if someone is trying to make a statement that is only seven words long, it probably isn't worth the time to come up with all of these possible interpretations.

In regards to KLEUR's assessment that the billboard promotes patriarchy, I just don't see how that can be the case. KLEUR is attempting some sort of virtue-signaling campaign to capture the attention of women who care about gender equality and manipulate it for publicity reasons. If the protest isn't meant to promote action to remove the billboard, surely KLEUR knows that a protest of this manner would only bring it more attention. Maybe KLEUR isn't aware of the free market of ideas and how attention is used as a currency to invest in arguments, and the lack of attention is the number one killer of stupid ideas, but since I don't doubt the intelligence of KLEUR's businesspeople, I'm sure they know exactly what they are doing. Broad claims such as "the billboard demands that women be silent and appreciative," are such large, vague stretches that it's almost criminal that they are able to get people to believe them.

The question still remains; what does the sign really imply in its statement? Well, according to Joel Sronce's interview with Bill Whiteheart, the party responsible for the sign's erection has stated that "they will have a forthcoming announcement in the future." Although I would say it would be much more responsible to wait and see what other shenanigans the billboard activist has planned, KLEUR has decided to go gung-ho into the "scream and yell at the things we don't like" phase in accordance to the new era's rules for civil discourse. Although I wholly believe that the protest will not accomplish anything, I am confident that the protesters will tell me that I'm wrong while finding the self-righteousness that they are searching for.

When I was growing up, I was taught that offense is never given, but only taken. I hope that those who are truly outraged by this sign can one day learn to look past such petty things and focus their passion on bigger and more important issues. Maybe the person who paid for the billboard only wanted to see a reaction from it, and we're all playing into his or her pocket.

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